Many people flock to naturally-occurring hot springs all over the globe but where do these soothing waters come from? Hot springs are created by water coming into contact with heated rocks deep within the Earth's crust. The heated water then recirculates and travels to the surface to form pools. Areas near volcanic activity can produce waters with extreme temperatures and as a result, they're way too hot to handle.
Some hot springs have been around since the time of the Vikings. Currently, the oldest hot spring is Hierapolis which is a Unesco World Heritage site and dates back to over 100 years BCE.
There are many health benefits of bathing in hot springs like improved circulation, reduced symptoms of certain skin conditions, and boosting your overall mental health.
To get your healthy dose of hot potting, check out the five top places with natural hot springs around the world below!
Grand Prismatic, Yellowstone National Park
Did you know that Yellowstone National Park is the very first National Park established in the United States? With over 1 million tourists annually, the park is still one of the most visited in the country, with those eagerly awaiting to view the Old Faithful geyser. But, what's even more spectacular is the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring, the third largest in the world. Its diameter is bigger than a football field and reaches depths of 121 feet! A variety of bacteria in the spring contribute to the bright colors of the rainbow that are on display. Unfortunately, you can look but can't touch; these waters are too dangerous for bathing.
As if the region of Tuscany isn't gorgeous enough, the Terme di Saturnia natural hot spring is also a must-see. Located near the small town of Saturnia, northwest of Rome and about a 2.5 hours drive away, the hot spring pools are completely free and open to the public—all day and every day of the year. Multiple turquoise pools are nestled between rocky borders against the picturesque Tuscan countryside backdrop. Tranquil waters are naturally heated to a comfortable temperature of 99.5℉ (37.5℃), so it's safe for all your loved ones, big and small. While you're relaxing in the pools and taking in the view, just be sure to wear some water shoes as the rocky surfaces can be hard on your feet.
The idyllic and flawless edges decorating the thermal pools in Pamukkale will make you think you're at heaven's gate! Its name is spot on as it means "cotton castle" in English. The Pamukkale pools are found in southwest Turkey and interestingly enough, are near an ancient Roman spa town. The city is known for its cloudy limestone formations which are caused by a chemical reaction between the warm spring water and calcium deposits. While you're in the area hiking to the pools, be sure to soak in the rich history around you. The region is flanked by Greek and Roman ruins including temples, theatres, and columns, and so much more.
Kheer Ganga, India
Although the trek to the Kheer Ganga pools in Parvati Valley is a long one, it's well worth the trip. To reach the northern region in India, you must take a bus ride from the nearest town of Bharseni, then hike along a mountainous trail for about 4-6 hours, and finally reach the peak at 13,051ft(3978m) above sea level. Waterfalls, luscious green landscapes, and wooden bridges are just some of the sites you'll encounter on your way to the Kheer Ganga pools. While you submerge yourself in the sulfur-rich suds, you can breathe in the mountain air and bask in the panoramic portrait of the Himalayan mountains all around you.
The Unnatorq natural springs are found on an isolated island in South Greenland. Legend has it that the island is haunted. What's fascinating is that about 1000 years ago, the Vikings unearthed the intoxicating pools. To reach Unnatorq, you'll need to hop on a boat for 1 hour from either the towns of Nanortalik or Qaqortok. There is one stone-covered pool that's sourced by 3 spring streams that reach a temperature of 100.4°F (38℃). As you slowly melt into the heated pools, you can gaze at the glistening icebergs gently floating by.
Before visiting any of the hot spring sites above or others, be sure to practice responsible traveling and check if any destination is considered vulnerable or if it's a protected heritage site. To join the sustainable travel crusade, take a look at Solgaard's gear made from ocean-bound plastic.
Written by Arista Caldera